A Republican congressman just defended the construction of Trump’s US-Mexico border wall by arguing that nuclear warheads could be smuggled across the border in bales of marijuana. We’ve heard plenty of ridiculous and uninformed justifications of the wall from Republican backers, but this one takes the cake.
The comment came from Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), whose district is just over 100 miles away from the Mexican border, in a discussion with CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Wednesday discussing the border wall and the illicit drug trade.
“The reality, Brianna, is that we have to measure all of the costs, ancillary and otherwise, and make the best decision that we can. But I can suggest to you that there are national security implications here for a porous border,” Franks said. “We sometimes used to make the point that if someone wanted to smuggle in a dangerous weapon, even a nuclear weapon, into America, how would they do it? And the suggestion was made, ‘Well, we’ll simply hide it in a bale of marijuana. So the implications of a porous border have national security dimensions that are very significant and that bear a lot of conversation when we talk about costs.”
Shockingly, this is not the first time Rep. Franks has discussed his hair-brained scheme to smuggle nukes into the country in bales of weed; in a 2012 speech on the House floor he raised the possibility of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah doing just that. Such a suggestion is of course patently outrageous and practically near-impossible. With Trump’s proposed border wall finally being recognized as the useless boondoggle it is, however, it is no surprise that Republicans are grasping at straws and inventing fantasy scenarios in order to justify it.
The fact of the matter is that our border with Mexico is already one of the most secure in the world. A third of the border is already walled or fenced off and some 45,000 border patrol agents and inspectors work along it. The government already funnels some $6.9 billion annually into security along the border, and independent estimates suggest that Trump’s wall would cost as much as $25 billion more, money that we be far better spent improving our healthcare and education systems or rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.
Moreover, the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico and the wider Latin America is actually at its lowest level in decades. The number of migrants crossing from Mexico to the United States is at its lowest level since the 1990s, the number of apprehensions on the border is at its lowest level since 1973, the illegal immigrant population in the United States has been declining steadily since 2008, and in recent years more Mexicans have been leaving than coming to the United States.
And, contrary to the claims of nativist Republicans, the decline in Mexican immigration comes not because of increased security on the border but as a result of demographic and economic changes within Mexico that have made immigration to the US a far less attractive option. It is abundantly clear to all right-thinking people that Trump’s wall would be nothing but a sinister monument to populist narcissism and ignorant xenophobia built on the taxpayer’s dime. Even most Republican representatives whose districts actually border Mexico are opposed to the wall. Not so, however, for Rep. Franks, who will have to keep thinking up asinine pipe dreams to try to justify the boondoggle that is the Trump Wall.
Watch the exchange on CNN below:
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.